On the 18th day of its incursion into Ukraine, Russian forces attacked the wider area around the city of Lviv in the western part of the country. The Ukrainian military training facility in Yavoriv, in western Ukraine, was the target of serious Russian air-strikes today. At least 35 deaths have been confirmed with more than 150 more injured. Yavoriv is situated some 20 kilometers from the Polish border, the eastern border of the NATO alliance.
Ukrainian authorities have announced plans to establish 14 humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced today that 125 thousand civilians have already been evacuated from combat zones. Meanwhile, a convoy of several tons of humanitarian aid will try once again to reach the besieged city of Mariupol, in the southeast of the country. Russian forces continue to tighten the noose around the capital Kiev and the city of Mykolaiv near the Black Sea, where nine people were reportedly killed this morning. The cities of Kharkiv, Sumy and Dnipro, are still under strong air-attack.
More than 2.6 million refugees have fled Ukraine since the beginning of the Russian invasion, which is the fastest outflow of population since World War Two. More than half of them are currently in Poland, but tens of thousands have also made their way to Bulgaria and Moldova, both of which have much weaker economies than other Western European countries. This has raised the issue of how they will withstand the incoming wave of refugees. Moldova, a country of about 2.5 million people, has already taken in 100 000 Ukrainian refugees and is urgently seeking help. Both countries are also currently in population decline, with some suggesting that the refugees could enter their labour markets. The Bulgarian Employers' Association says it could readily employ 200 000 Ukrainians. The country's population has fallen from nearly nine million in the last days of the communist regime, to the current 6.5 million. Hungary, which has a restrictive migration policy, is also struggling with labour shortages, and as a result has welcomed Ukrainian refugees.
Meanwhile, authorities in the United Kingdom have announced that they will pay their citizens £350 per month, slightly more than 3 000 Kuna, to open their homes to Ukrainian refugees for at least six months. In doing so, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is looking to avoid criticism over London's delay in taking in refugees. Representatives from all major political parties in Britain have attacked the Johnson government's insistence that Ukrainians need visas and bio-metric tests before they can be taken in by the United Kingdom, accusing Johnson's administration of prioritizing bureaucracy over the needs of Ukrainians fleeing the war.
For its part, Croatia has taken in about five thousand Ukrainian nationals since the beginning of the Russian invasion. The Interior Ministry has decided to facilitate and accelerate the entry of refugees into Croatia by offering the Enter Croatia application form in the Ukrainian language. Free legal aid to Ukrainian refugees will also be provided by the Croatian Bar Association.
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